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My Secret Lies With You

Faye Bird

Ifan, Hannah and Marko have been best friends forever and last summer, they met Alys. Ifan fell in love with her. Hannah hated her. And Marko regrets what they did. Then Alys disappeared.

This summer, Cait is new and town and meets the three friends before learning that a girl has recently gone missing. Can the missing girl have something to do with the mystery of what happened last summer, and can Cait uncover what that was?

We asked author FAYE BIRD to tell us more about MY SECRET LIES WITH YOU:

Q: How did you begin writing for young people, and do you do other work as well as write?

A: I have always written, but it was when I had my own kids that my love of children's books was rekindled and I started to think about writing for young people.

I went on the Faber Academy's Writing for Children Course with Anthony McGowan and that's where I discovered that writing for teenagers was where my words seemed to come alive the most.

I've always worked in some way or another with story. Before I was published I was a Literary Agent for TV and Film Scriptwriters and now I work as an HLTA in a Primary School supporting Literacy and Reading alongside my writing work.

Q: Your books tend to towards psychological thrillers - what draws you in this direction, and is this what you enjoyed reading as a teenager?

A: I suspect years of reading TV scripts, many of which were psychological crime stories, influenced me to a certain degree. But I also genuinely love a dark story. I like a slightly offbeat, unusual, emotionally dark read.

YA didn't exist when I was a teenager, but I remember discovering the Nancy Drew Mysteries when I was around seven or eight years old. It was a real moment when I realised that there was a more than one at my local library - a moment of pure joy! So I think I've always been intrigued by a mystery.

Q: What for you makes a great psychological thriller?

A: I think it's got to be that push and pull between the external and internal drama. I love it when outside events twist and turn, and while you're busy being enthralled and trying to work out what the characters are going to do, they go and do something unexpected or different.

Q: And how much planning does it take to create one?

A: I have come to learn with writing each book that planning really does work best for me. The process is obviously different for every writer, but I started to write my first book, My Second Life, with just three key scenes in my head and not much else.

With My Secret Lies With You, I had the whole story mapped out before I started writing. When there is a crime or a mystery involved I think it's really helpful to be in control of where you are heading with the story.

Q: My Secret Lies With You explores what happened one summer, and how it affects a close group of friends - Marko, Hannah and Ifan. Was there something you saw or read that inspired the novel?

A: The inspiration came from wanting to write about a place, in North Wales, that I have visited throughout my life. I spent almost all my school holidays in Wales from age 7 to 17, and it's a place that is very special to me.

I had a clear sense of the mood and tone that I wanted to capture from the landscape - dark, but beautiful, quiet and sometimes dull, a place that could even on occasion feel a little oppressive, even strange. I knew that this sort of tone would work well for the kind of stories I tend to write and so this is where I began - putting a group of teenagers in this setting.

Q: The group met a girl, Alys, who then disappears without a trace. Why did you decide that Alys would have such an impact on the three friends?

A: Sometimes you meet someone new in life and you can be intrigued; it might be their clothes, it might be the way they speak or laugh - they just captivate you.

I remember being a teenager and wanting to meet new people, but also feeling shy and sometimes under-confident about that. In friendship groups there can be so much at stake if things change. If someone starts going out with someone new or a new person joins the group, it can have a big impact.

I wanted to explore all of that, and of course in the context of a mystery, it worked well for Alys to be both intriguing and also rather elusive.

Q: Cait is the newcomer to the group, struggling with issues around bereavement and a possible new stepdad. Why did you want to explore these experiences through both Cait and Alys?

A: I wanted to write something set in North Wales, but I was also interested in writing about the connectedness of strangers. I liked the idea of being saved by a stranger - being saved by someone you might have never even met.

I was also exploring how when you first meet someone you have no idea how important they might eventually become to you.

These initial ideas obviously developed into something slightly different as I wrote, but I can see that something of them remains in the way in which the story moves between Cait and Alys and the events of the two summers.

Q: My Secret Lies With You is set in Wales, which you've mentioned, and Cait spends her summer there, but where would be your ideal holiday setting?

A: My ideal holiday setting would be somewhere beautiful, peaceful and warm. I definitely love being by the water, ideally by the sea.

I had the most wonderful holiday in Majorca last year and am lucky enough to be going back this year. But I am also going to North Wales, to the place where My Secret Lies With You is set, and I'm equally excited about that.

Wales has almost all that Majorca has - beautiful, rugged landscape, peace and tranquillity - but the weather doesn't always exactly match!

Q: Where and when do you write - can you describe your favourite writing place?

A: I have two days set aside for writing each week. If it's going well then I can get a little bit obsessed and will carry on writing over the weekend too. I can write anywhere - at home, in a cafe, at the library. I have even written in the car and on the tube. But my favourite place to write is at the British Library. I never fail to have a good writing day if I go there.

Q: Can you tell us three things that our members are unlikely to know about you...?

A: I spent my whole childhood being afraid of dogs. I used to walk home from school endlessly crossing the road if there was a dog on my side of the street. It often took me a while to get home!

The name Faye comes from the word "faie" in Middle English, which means Fairy. I have always believed in fairies and have always wished I could fly.

I love chocolate. But it has to be dark, not milk.

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